FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 6, 2020
Contact: Jonathon Dworkin, 202-660-1340 x5
NewDEAL Forum Releases Housing Crisis Strategy
Renewing America Task Force recommends state/local policies to keep people in homes and address inequities in housing affordability
Washington, D.C. – Responding to the increasing housing affordability challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the NewDEAL Forum’s Renewing America Task Force today issued guidance for state, county, and city leaders to provide crucial assistance to renters and support struggling landlords, while addressing long-standing structural inequities that have prevented people of color from having fair access to housing.
Among its recommendations, the Task Force urges states and cities to follow models for targeting aid from their limited funding to reach those most economically impacted by the pandemic. The group notes that rent assistance efforts are most effective when renters apply, but funds are distributed directly to landlords, and that legal protections and eviction diversion programs are key tools for the most at-risk individuals. To address immediate and long-term inequities facing Black Americans and other disadvantaged groups, governments must collect and make available timely data broken down by race and other subgroups, especially on evictions, while ending discriminatory zoning and supporting key community-based organizations.
“This Task Force is committed to the principle that policymakers shouldn’t simply strive to reach the pre-pandemic status quo, but must prioritize solutions that address prior inequalities,” said NewDEAL Forum CEO Debbie Cox Bultan. “The guidance we release today provides actionable, feasible recommendations for state and local governments to keep more Americans in their homes and address long-running injustices in the housing market.
“In addition, we cannot emphasize enough that even more can be done if Congress would act swiftly to pass funding similar to what has already been approved by the U.S. House for states and cities of all sizes to plug enormous budget holes and to provide the support that all of their residents deserve.”
The document, informed by conversations with state and local officials and policy experts, includes a list of key policy principles and goals followed by examples of innovative initiatives from across the country. It emphasizes that policymakers must prepare for an onslaught of housing needs, especially among renters, as protections offered at the start of the pandemic and federal safety net funding expire.
Among the model policies it highlights include:
- Salt Lake City, UT Mayor Erin Mendenhall’s deferral of license fees for landlords who do not evict anyone from the beginning to three months following the end of the local state of emergency;
- Nevada State Treasurer Zach Conine’s effort to provide three months of payments for residential and commercial renters who are overdue on rent; and
- The “Renter’s Choice” movement in places like Cincinnati, OH, which represents an immediate and long-term solution to affordable housing by requiring alternatives to traditional security deposits, such as low-cost renters insurance.
“While many states and municipalities acted swiftly to keep people in their homes as the public health emergency emerged, renters across the board are about to face a much harsher reality, as eviction moratoria end even as unemployment remains high,” states the report. “Many Americans now require direct assistance just to stay in their homes. Instability in rent payments could also trigger larger problems, as the majority of rental housing owners are “mom and pop” operators, not large companies. State and local leaders across the country must take additional steps to stem the impact of the pandemic on housing and prevent Americans from falling into a deeper crisis.”
The Task Force was created to identify and promote the most effective state and local policy solutions for rebuilding the nation’s economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic by bringing together innovative state and local elected officials along with top experts. It is led by five co-chairs who are members of the Forum’s sister organization, the NewDEAL, a network of 180 of the most innovative elected officials across the country who are pro-growth progressives:
The Task Force will continue to convene monthly for in-depth conversations on a specific subject. On every topic, the group will specifically address opportunities to remedy long-standing inequities that have discriminated against people of color. Its next guidance document will focus on the child care crisis as 40 percent of providers report that they will close without public assistance.
About the NewDEAL Forum
The NewDEAL Forum is a Washington-DC based non-profit organization which identifies and promotes innovative, future-oriented state and local pro-growth progressive policies that can improve the lives of all Americans. By facilitating the identification and spread of policy ideas, the NewDEAL Forum seeks to foster economic growth, reduce barriers to opportunity, and promote good government in communities, cities, and states throughout the country.